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Unformatted text preview: The Ideas that it involves cannot be applied in experience,
nor can its propositions ever be confirmed or refuted by experience. If any errors creep
into the employment of reason, they will have to be discovered by pure reason itself
·because neither sensibility nor understanding can have anything to do with them·. For
reason thus to stand guard over itself is very difficult, because the reason that is standing
guard is the very faculty that is necessarily prone to intellectual illusions, and we have no
firm objectively grounded procedure for avoiding them - only a subjective enquiry into
reason itself as a source of Ideas.
My chief aim in the Critique was not only to distinguish carefully the several sorts of
knowledge but also to derive from their common source the concepts belonging to each of
them. I did this so that by knowing the origins of these concepts I could settle how they
might safely be used; and it also gave me the priceless though unexpected advantage of
knowing, a priori and in a principled way, that Ÿmy list of concepts, and Ÿmy classification
and Ÿdescriptions of them, are complete. Without this, everything in metaphysics is a mere 50
jumble, in which you never know whether you have enough ·for your purpose·, or whether
and where something is still lacking. This advantage is the very essence of pure
philosophy, and is not to be had anywhere else.
I have derived the twelve categories - the four trios of pure concepts of the
understanding - from a classification of kinds of judgment that can be made. The concepts
of reason are three in number, and they derive from a classification not of judgments but
of logical arguments - specifically, the three kinds of inferences of reason. For these pure
concepts of reason (the transcendental Ideas) are given - we simply do have them - and if
one doesn’t want to regard them as something like innate, the only source that can be
found for them is the activity of reason. That activity in its concern with logical form
constitutes the logical element of the inferences of reason; but it also involves recognizing
judgments of the understanding as involving this or that a priori form of judgment, and in
this role it yields transcendental concepts of pure reason.
The basic sorts of argument are: categorical, conditional, and disjunctive. [A
categorical argument is one whose first premise is of the form ‘(Subject) is (Predicate)’; a
conditional one has a premise of the form ‘If P, then Q’; a disjunctive one has one of the
form ‘Either P or Q’.] ·Each Idea involves the thought of a kind of completeness·. So the
Ideas - the concepts of pure reason - are as follows.
ŸCategorical: the Idea of a complete subject (the Idea of what is substantial); this
is the Idea of an ultimate ‘thing which . . .’, like Locke’s idea of substance in
general·; this Idea is psychological ·because the natural home ground of this
thought is in application to oneself: I am a thing which· . . .’.
ŸConditional: the Idea of a complete series of conditions - ·e.g. the thought of all
the causes of the present state of the world·; this Idea is cosmological.
ŸDisjunctive: the Idea of a complete reality that somehow encompasses the entire
range of what is possible; this Idea is theological.10
All three give rise to dialectics - ·that is, to characteristic dangers of intellectual illusion,
insoluble problems, lurking contradictions, and the like·. But their ways of doing so are
different, and so we have - ·corresponding to the trio
Ÿcategorical, Ÿconditional, and Ÿdisjunctive·
- a three-part division of the dialects of pure reason into
its ŸParalogism, its ŸAntinomy, and its ŸIdeal.
Through this way of coming at things we can feel assured that all the claims of pure reason
are completely represented, nothing missed, because we have completely surveyed the
faculty of reason itself, from which they all take their origin.
It should be borne in mind that the Ideas of reason, unlike the categories, are of no use to
us in bringing the understanding to bear on experience. In the knowledge of nature by the
-----------------------------------10 In disjunctive judgments we consider the whole range of what is possible as divided in respect to some
particular concept. The ontological principle that every object falls under one or the other out of each
contradictory pair of predicates, which is also the principle of all disjunctive judgments, essentially relies
on this thought of the sum of all possibility - which goes with the thought that every possible object is
completely determinate, ·because it falls under just one out of each contradictory pair of predicates·. . . . 51
understanding, the Ideas of reason are entirely dispensable; indeed they are a positive
obstacle to what is going on. (They have, however, their own good use, which we shall
come to later.) ŸThe psychological Idea of reason brings up the question ‘Is the soul a
simple substance or not?’ The answer to that is of no interest when we are doing empirical
psychology. No possible experience could be evidence for eith...
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